Reduced levels of nitrites in hot dogs had no significant affect on incidence of colon cancer

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FoodFacts.com
thought our community would find this story of particular interest. Back in 1978, the United States government mandated the addition of vitamin C to hot dogs. This would reduce the amount of nitrites and would, by the popular opinion of the time, reduce the rate of colon cancer in the country.

The FDA required hot dog manufacturers to include either ascorbate or erythorbate in their products. Both of these would offset the amount of nitrites present in the meat. Nitrites are what is added to processed meats like frankfurters. They enhance flavor and color in addition to extending shelf life. Unfortunately, as the meat is cooked the nitrites mix with amines in the meat to form cancer-causing nitrosamines. The presence of vitamin C would reduce the nitrites and prevent the cancer.

Great idea.

A new study, however, has revealed that although there has been a notable drop in the number of people who die from colon cancer, there really hasn’t been much of a change in the number of people who actually get colon cancer. These findings were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting just this week. While researchers agree that the amount of nitrites in hot dogs were definitely reduced by the changes made by the government, those reductions did not decrease the risk for colon cancer in the country. Researchers feel that the results would have been evident by now.

It was agreed that the decrease in the death rate from colon cancer is most likely attributable to earlier detection and better treatments.

While the researchers agreed that reducing the nitrites in hot dogs was a beneficial move, the hot dog issue is difficult to determine. Since not everyone is a hot dog fan, and even most of those who are aren’t eating them in excess, studying the issue is clouded.

Regardless of its effect on colon cancer, it’s better for everyone that today’s hot dogs carry reduced quantities of nitrites compared to their 1970’s counterparts.

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